The Bard Music Festival 2017: Chopin and His World—a Preview

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Chopin at 25, by his fiancée Maria Wodzińska, 1835. Watercolor and ink on Bristol board. National Museum Warsaw.

Chopin at 25, by his fiancée Maria Wodzińska, 1835. Watercolor and ink on Bristol board. National Museum Warsaw.

The Bard Music Festival 2017: Chopin and his World
Bard College Annandale-on-Hudson: Fisher Performing Arts Center and Olin Hall

Weekend I: August 11–13: Chopin, the Piano, and Musical Culture of the 19th Century
Weekend II:August 18–20: Originality and Virtuosity

Many of us who attend the Bard Music Festival look forward to it with the same warm anticipation we once looked forward to Christmas. Two weekends are packed with music, much of it we’ve never heard before, some of it great, some good, some interesting. There are panel discussions and lectures to help tie it all together, usually pitched at a general educated audience, but always with surprises and things one didn’t know before. And there is a feast of discussion, with the musicians, with the speakers, and with each other. It’s not so much that there is music to be enjoyed and a historical context to learn: through the immersion in immediate, live concerts and contact with knowledgeable humans a unique experience emerges in which we can live this whole of sensual and intellectual pleasure, analysis, and a direct understand of the cultural and social whole in which the music was created. The difference between this and the traditional sources of background information available to concertgoers—i.e. program notes—is like a month in Paris against a travel brochure.

The Festival has adhered faithfully to major composers, the greats of the Western Tradition: Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Bartók, Saint-Saëns, Debussy, Ives, Copland, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Dvořák, Janáček, Schoenberg, Berg, Sibelius and Elgar, etc., although recently, much to everyone’s delight, a debatable figure, Carlos Chávez entered, once well-known and much-feted in the United States, but since largely forgotten. He was followed by Giacomo Puccini, whose reputation for facile sentimentality has not entirely faded. Some die-hard scoffers left the festival unconverted, although it proved to be one of the most stimulating. In fact, all of these composers have their own problems of reception, even Beethoven…and, of course, Wagner! One striking situation is that some of the most important composers are best known by works that are not their best. Sibelius and Prokofiev are cases in point. Once their entire oeuvre is opened up, great treasures are revealed and our perspective broadens and deepens.

As for Fryderyk/Frédéric Chopin (Żelazowa Wola, Poland 1810–Paris 1849), there may have once been some critical snobbery leveled at his predilection for short, single-movement works for solo piano and their setting in private salons, in which the stage-shy composer felt at home, but the works, many showing a brilliant and monumental expansion from their humble origins as dances, technical exercises, or mood-pieces in song form, assert their importance most eloquently for themselves, and it doesn’t take a great deal of musical knowledge to understand his harmonic innovations well enough to admire them. Perhaps his sophistication in working with the elements of melody, ornament, and form requires a bit more of the listener. Still Chopin’s music has been received with respect, even awe since his lifetime or not long after, especially among concertizing pianists, and it is hard to imagine our musical tradition without it.

However, there is at least one inherent obstacle to understanding Chopin as a composer, and that arises from the fact that his oeuvre consists of so many short pieces written in a variety of genres, rather fluid genres, not grounded in some strict musical definition, but in the expectations of Chopin’s audiences and pupils, and some of these are associated with him alone, although he was not the sole practitioner of any of them: the prelude, the mazurka, polonaise, the waltz, the nocturne, the ballade, the scherzo, the etude, and so forth. In his maturity he often combined them and blurred the lines between them. Today these works are mostly heard in mixed programs along with the work of other composers—recitals by prominent virtuosi intended to display their particular style to an audience of fans. If a pianist schedules an all-Chopin program, it tends to be based on a complete performance of one of the composer’s larger collections, for example the Etudes, Op. 25 or the Preludes, Op. 28. The practical length of a recital is too limited to give us an broader perspective on Chopin’s development. The two weekends of the Bard Festival are to some extent free from this constraint.

PROGRAM ONE, The Genius of Chopin comes as close to providing this kind of impossible survey of Chopin’s career as any concert in the festival. The program includes an early solo work rarely heard today, which would be hard to recognize as his work, the Variations on “Là ci darem la mano,” Op. 2, from 1827. In his teens, while still in Warsaw, he wrote several such works, basically in the brilliant style of the virtuoso-composers of the previous generation, Hummel, Moscheles, Field, and others. Two years later, Chopin wrote his Piano Concerto in F minor, Op. 21 (1829), one of his most beloved pieces, which few listeners today would have trouble recognising as his. There follows a work from the late 1830s, the Preludes, Op. 28 (1836–39), finished (mostly) in Majorca, where he settled with George Sand, her children, a small Pleyel upright, and—most significantly—a copy of J. S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. The great Polonaise-Fantaisie, Op. 61 (1845–46), familiar and beloved to all who have the faintest acquaintance with Chopin’s, is a masterpiece of his late maturity. The program will close with a selections from Chopin’s seldom-heard songs. Although most of them were published under a single opus number, he wrote them throughout his career, beginning as early as 1827 and ending as late as 1847. The songs are quite beautiful and should illuminate his early adoption of folk songs and dances into his piano music, the original inspiration of his mazurkas and polonaises, which developed far beyond their ethnic mould into works as elaborate as Op. 61. Chopin’s assimilation of the Polish folk songs and dances was one of the key elements that established his individuality as a composer. Starting out as a pianist-composer in Warsaw, he didn’t immediately look in this direction, but eventually it took hold in him and continued to develop during his brief stay in Vienna and the remainder of his short life in France. Benjamin Hochman and Orion Weiss, admired as much for their intellect as their virtuosity, will play, with, in the concerto, Leon Botstein conducting The Orchestra Now (TON).

The next morning, Saturday, August 12, will be devoted to a panel discussion, Chopin: Real and Imagined, speakers to be announced.

Jósef Elsner, Chopin's teacher

Jósef Elsner, Chopin’s teacher

At 1 pm, Jeffrey Kallberg will introduce PROGRAM TWO, Chopin and Warsaw, a concert devoted to Chopin’s teacher—in composition, not piano, in which he was largely self-taught—Józef Elsner (1769-1854) and the musical environment in which his early musical education took place. Elsner, a German from Breslau (Wroclaw), made a career in the more musically sophisticated Austro-Hungarian city of Lemberg (Lviv/Lwów) before moving to Warsaw in 1799 and playing the major role in establishing rigorous programs in musical training at the High School of Music, the Conservatory, and the University, making the city into one of the more institutionally advanced of the time. Before entering the High School at age 16, Chopin took private lessons with Elsner, based on the classics of 18th century composition, counterpoint, and theory. Chopin’s preference for Mozart over Beethoven should come as no surprise in this context.

The program sticks very much to the point. Of Elsner, Anna Polonsky will play a piano sonata. Václav Vilém Würfel was another of Chopin’s teachers. Renowned as a pianist, he actually instructed Chopin in the organ. We will hear his Grande fantaisie lugubre au souvenir des trois héros: Prince Joseph Poniatowski, Kościuszko et Dąbrowski, Op. 18 (1818), played by Rieko Aizawa. Like Elsner, Karol Kurpiński emigrated to Warsaw from Lemberg in 1810 and contributed to the musical vitality of the city with his operas on Polish historical subjects, orchestral, and ecclesiastical works. Ms. Aizawa will play his Romantic fantasy, “A Dreadful Dream.” (1818/1820). Maria Szymanowska was a celebrated composer-pianist in her time, foreshadowing Chopin by leaving Warsaw for Paris and performing in salons there. After 1815 she travelled widely, especially in Russia and secured a position at the court in St. Petersburg. She returned to Warsaw in 1827 and played a concert which Chopin attended. Her singing legato made an impression on him, which influenced his playing and writing in important ways. She also performed together with Johann Nepomuk Hummel, one of the foremost virtuosi of his time, a pupil of Mozart and author of an important manual on keyboard playing. He performed in Warsaw several times, notably in 1829. Chopin played his concerti and solo works often, and his earliest compositions are very much in his style. Danny Driver will play his Piano Concerto in A Minor, accompanied by the Orchestra NOW, James Bagwell, conductor. Karol Lipiński was, after Paganini, one of the great violin virtuosi of his time, also played in Warsaw in 1829. under the auspices of the city’s Russian ruler under the partition, Tsar Nicolas I. Jesse Mills will play his third violin concerto, written after Chopin had established himself in Paris.

Act 3 scene 2 of Robert at the Paris Opéra (Salle Le Peletier), 1832.\

Act 3 scene 2 of Robert at the Paris Opéra (Salle Le Peletier), 1832

Opera, the most highly-regarded and popular musical entertainment of the nineteenth century, exerted a crucial influence on Chopin’s melodic style. The most prominent pianist-composers of the 18th and early 19th centuries,  including Mozart and Beethoven, derived pieces, usually in the form of variations, on popular arias. “Là ci darem la mano” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni was one of Elsner’s favorite teaching examples. We heard Chopin’s Op. 2, his variations on the tune, most likely derived from an exercise assigned by Elsner, in the first program. Music by Spohr, Meyerbeer, Bellini, Weber, and Rossini (including substantial excerpts from Act III of Rossini’s Otello, which Chopin heard in Warsaw in 1828) will illustrate this, along with Chopin’s own Fantasy on Polish Airs, Op. 13 (1828) will provide a pertinent sample of this aspect of Chopin’s musical formation. The Fantasy is a potpourri of Polish folk song and dances, the other stream that flowed into his melodic invention, interestingly connected to his operatic interests through a dedication to one Johann Peter Pixis, who got him a commission to write a compilation of tunes from Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable.

Bard Music Festival stalwart, Piers Lane, will start off the last day of the first weekend with a concert-lecture on the piano in the 19th century, with works by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and others.

Ignaz Moscheles

Ignaz Moscheles

The afternoon will be devoted to Chopin’s Jewish contemporaries, who figured prominently in the community of pianist-composers to which Chopin himself belonged. Mendelssohn received a musical education very similar to Chopin’s, grounded deeply in counterpoint, as shown by his Prelude and Fugue in E minor, which we will hear with Chopin’s Fourth Ballade fresh in our ears. Ignaz Moscheles’ contribution to the development of piano technique was equal to Hummel’s and Chopin’s. His Concerto No. 3 in G minor, Op. 58 (1820) will document this with as much pleasure as instruction. After pieces by Henri Herz and Ferdinand Hiller (“Alla memoria di Vincenzo Bellini”), spectacular works by the great virtuosi, Sigismond Thalberg (“Fantaisie sur Andante finale de Lucia di Lammermoor”) and Charles-Valentin Alkan will conclude the program.

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Fonds des dessins et miniatures, Musée du Louvre, Paris

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Fonds des dessins et miniatures, Musée du Louvre, Paris

The evening concert, Virtuosity and its Discontents, will close the first weekend on an intense level, with more opera-related material, namely excerpts from Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, and virtuosic pieces from Paganini and Chopin, who in fact composed a Souvenir de Paganini. Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu in C-sharp minor, Op. 66 (1834) will continue in this vein, along with  works by Liszt, including his Gnomenreigen, and finally somewhat tempered in Schumann’s first violin sonata, in A Minor.

During this first weekend, we have followed Chopin’s training and the formation of his musical personality through mostly Pan-European influences like the virtuosi Hummel and Szymanowska and above all Italian opera, rather overshadowing, it seems, his study of Polish folk music.

In recent years the Bard Festival has been offering an extra Thursday evening event presented by artists not engaged in the main festival and including music ancillary in some way to the primary composer’s own creative work. This year’s program, Movement, Miniatures, and Mysticism, to be performed by Bard Music West in the Spiegeltent, promises to be especially interesting, surveying the influence of Chopin on the music of Les Six to Witold Lutosławski (1913-94); Henryk Górecki (1933-2010); Marta Ptaszyńska (b. 1943); Agata Zubel (b. 1978); and others.

Charles Gounod in 1859

Charles Gounod in 1859

The Festival proper will reconvene on Friday, August 18 with a special concert at 5pm by the New York Wind Symphony, who will play Charles Gounod’s Petite Symphonie for Winds, Op. 216 (1885) and Hector Berlioz’s important Grande Symphonie funèbre et triomphale, Op. 15 (1840), both premiered in Paris and, especially in the case of Berlioz, in their setting for wind band in large public spaces, embodying the very opposite to Chopin’s intimate aesthetic, confined mostly to a single pianoforte. The flute virtuoso Paul Taffanel commissioned Gounod’s more intimate Petite Symphonie for his own wind group, and it remains more within the scope of Mozart’s divertimenti for winds. Berlioz’s Grand Symphonie will pave the way for the final concert of Festival, which will contrast one of Chopin’s grandest—and strangest—works, the Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise, Op. 22, with one of Berlioz’s more lyrical creations, Roméo et Juliette.

Chopin's Pleyel Pianino. Majorca.

Chopin’s Pleyel Pianino. Majorca.

Friday’s main event, however, will, through the efforts of the distinguished pianists assembled by the Bard Festival—Charlie Albright, Michael Brown, Danny Driver, Piers Lane, Anna Polonsky, and Ran Dank—offer us one more chance to immerse ourselves in the marrow of Chopin’s mature work: piano pieces, all very famous, ranging from excerpts from the Etudes, Op. 10 to the Barcarolle in F-sharp, Op. 60 (1845-46), one of the last works to be published in Chopin’s lifetime. Chopin is not one of those composers who is most widely identified with works which are not his best, and a Chopin festival is inconceivable without a serious session with his core work. With these outstanding pianists, some young, some in mid-career, this should prove an enlightening and satisfying journey, not to be mapped in chronological order, but comparing and contrasting work from the 1830s and 1840s. The program speaks for itself.

The following morning there will be the second panel discussion, Chopin’s Place in 19th-Century Performance Culture, again with speakers to be announced.

Chopin performing for the Radziwiłł family, painting by Henryk Siemiradzki (1843–1902)

Chopin performing for the Radziwiłł family, painting by Henryk Siemiradzki (1843–1902)

At 1 pm, Byron Adams will introduce a survey of the sort of music played at the Parisian salons, which were Chopin’s preferred environment for performance and the presentation of new work. In these gatherings, surrounded by the highly-placed people he regarded, he was free of the stage fright which made public concerts a torture for him. He could also budget his limited energy when playing in salons. Here he recruited pupils as well, who provided his main source of income.

The concert will begin with the music of Chopin himself, his early Introduction and Polonaise brillante in C, Op. 3 of 1829-30, a period when, still based in Warsaw, he began to give concerts in Vienna, at first with success. He decided to move there in 1830, beginning his life of exile. When he wrote his Waltzes Op. 34, No. 3 (1838) and Op. 70, No. 1 (1835, posthumously published), he was already established in Paris. A Nocturne by the Irish composer John Field (1782-1837) will illustrate the genre before Chopin took it up and made it his own. A Nocturne by Auguste Franchomme (1808–84) for two cellos will show a radically different instrumental approach to the genre. The salon was a natural venue for such an intimate form of expression. Chamber orchestras could be accommodated in the grander private residences, justifying the inclusion of a piano concerto by Ferdinand Ries, Beethoven’s pupil, continuing a successful career up to his death a decade after his master’s. Louis Spohr’s Octet in E, Op. 32 was one of his most popular works, from when he wrote it in 1814 to the present day. A piece from Clara Wieck’s Soirées Musicales, Op. 6, No. 3 will bring this great concertizing virtuosa into the world of the salon, and the sympathetic openness between solo piano music and song will be represented by Songs and a Mazurka by Maria Szymanowska and vocal settings of six of Chopin’s Mazurkas by Pauline Viardot, a resonant figure in the Paris salons and a close friend of George Sand.

Stanisław Moniuszko

Stanisław Moniuszko

Elsner had great hopes that his pupil would write the great Polish national opera, distilling Polishness in music, mores, tradition, and culture into a grand performance. Chopin’s delicate health precluded such an ambitious project, and his talents lay in the short solo works he was physically able to write. That distinction fell to another pupil of Elsner who was younger by nine years, Stanisław Moniuszko, who, as famous and popular as his Halka is in Poland, remains obscure outside its borders. Born in a village in what is now Byelorussia as a member of the middle aristocracy (slachta), his father, a poet and painter, and his mother, an accomplished amateur pianist, were able to support his musical talents. They moved to Warsaw to enable him to study at the Conservatory. Later, after financial problems forced them to return to Minsk, they sent him to Berlin to study. Their aversion to Russian influence is significant. In Berlin his vocal inclinations took form. He enrolled in Singakademie and found ample exposure to opera, both German and Italian, at the Königliche Schauspiele. He completed his studies in 1839, just as Chopin was nearing the final phase of his career in Paris, married, and moved to Vilnius in Southern Lithuania (not far from Minsk) where his parents had settled. There he struggled in obscurity as a piano teacher, organist, and occasional conductor.

Moniuszko had already written songs and an operetta, in addition to some chamber music, in Berlin and continued his vocal writing in Vilnius. He began his series of volumes of songs, the Śpiewnik domowy (“Home Songbook”), a popular collection over the generations, as well as operettas, one of which, Loteria (“The Lottery,” 1843) was successful enough to be produced in Warsaw, where he enjoyed the stimulating company of leading figures in the arts, including the poet Włodzimierz Wolski, who came to write the libretto for Halka.

Moniuszko began his operatic career with a story about an affair between a young nobleman, Janusz, and a peasant girl, Halka. It begins, however, in a noble household, where Janusz’s engagement to Zofia, a girl of his own class, is being celebrated. Halka seeks out Janusz, tells him that she is pregnant, and pressures him for a commitment. He puts her off, attempting to conceal his impending marriage, but of course it is all over the village, and Halka finds out the truth. Although she has a devoted lover in Jontek, a mountaineer, she commits suicide by jumping off a precipice as the marriage ceremony between Janusz and Zofia is consummated. Janusz expresses considerable remorse during the course of the opera, but it all seems to end happily for him and his new bride.

Moniuszko finished a two-act version of the opera in 1847, but it was rejected by the Wielki Teatr in Warsaw, presumably because of political issues relating to the class conflict evinced in Halka’s tragic fate. It was given an amateur performance in Vilnius in the revolutionary year of 1848. Moniuszko took it up again in 1856, expanding it to four acts, and adding a duet as well as a scene of highland dances, based on folk music of the Tatra Mountains, where the story is set. This time the Wielki Teatr accepted it and performed it with immediate success in 1857, leading to as many as 36 performances that year. Moniuszko was now famous in Poland. He embarked on a European tour and returned to Poland to assume a position as director of Polish productions at the Wielki Teatr. Several of his succeeding operas, especially Hrabina (“The Countess”) and Straszny dwór (“The Haunted Manor”) were very successful, but it was Halka that became the national opera of Poland, performed all over the country, even eventually in the American Warsaw, Chicago, in 1934.

In Halka, you will find a rich array of tunes and dances based on Polish folk models, assimilated—with nothing like Chopin’s sophistication but considerable musical and dramatic skill—with a conventional Rossinian operatic style—just the sort of conservative opera that would appeal to Polish audiences of the time. (For context, we might consider that Wagner finished Lohengrin in 1848 and Die Walküre in 1856.)

A Scene from Halka on a Postage Stamp

A Scene from Halka on a Postage Stamp

Performances outside Poland, where Halka continues to be very popular, are rare today. The Bard performance, semi-staged under the direction of Mary Birnbaum and scenic designer, Grace Laubacher, who excelled in their production of Massenet’s La Navarraise last year. Leon Botstein will conduct the American Symphony Orchestra—with his usual keen appreciation of the beauties of under-appreciated scores, the extensive choral passages with the superb Bard Festival Chorus under the direction of James Bagwell, and the usual outstanding cast. What’s more this beloved Polish classic should add an entirely appropriate celebratory note to this festival devoted to the greatest figure in the arts of Poland.

The Festival will continue Sunday morning with the annual choral program, sung by members of the Bard Festival Chorus under James Bagwell. This is always one of the most keenly appreciated events of the Festival, with its brilliant selection of familiar and unfamiliar—occasionally challenging—choral music—a concert I always anticipate with pleasure. This year we will hear some Polish choral works combined with French compositions Chopin may have heard during his years in Paris.

The afternoon concert, introduced by the brilliant Richard Wilson, will look forward to Chopin’s legacy, both in the 19th (Schumann, Brahms, Wieniawski, Moszkowski, Grieg, and, partly, Fauré) and 20th (Paderewski, partly, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Scriabin, and Szymanowski). This program will start off with Chopin’s important late cello sonata, Op. 65, of 1846, continuing on to mostly piano solo works by the later composers.

Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz

That evening, the 2017 Bard Festival will conclude, as I have said, with one of Chopin’s most ambitious and beloved works, the Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise brillante, Op. 22 of 1830-35, his only mature work for piano and orchestra, in a program with Berlioz’s Dramatic Symphony, Roméo et Juliette, with the Bard Festival Chorus, The Orchestra Now, conducted by Leon Botstein, and an outstanding cast, including the highly regarded mezzo-soprano, Tamara Mumford. There is possibly an actual connection between the two works. Berlioz reviewed the 1835 concert at which Chopin premiered his Opus 22, but he chose not to mention it, bringing on the rupture in their friendship. Roméo et Juliette is a masterpiece which represents Berlioz at his most characteristic: his passion for literature, his passion for the leading lady in a production he saw, and his lyrical, but orchestrally rich use of vocal soloists, chorus, and instruments.

This collocation of the two masters is an example of what the Bard Festival does best—painting a picture of a composer in his total context. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the traditional presentation of Chopin’s music in the context of the virtuoso piano recital is unconducive to understanding individual works in the context of his own development as a composer, much less the environment in which he studied and work. This enterprise of mostly American and British musicians and musicologists will go against the grain of concert tradition and allow us a full perspective.

As far as representing Chopin’s own work goes, ten works—or excerpts from them—represent Chopin’s most important writing, with a perhaps understandable bias in favor of the mature Parisian compositions of the 1830s and 1840s. The output of his teens in Warsaw is contained in two works for piano and orchestra, the Variations on “La ci darem la mano,” virtually a student exercise, almost never played today, and the beloved First Piano Concerto, one of his most familiar masterpieces, just recently heard in a superb performance by Garrick Ohlsson at Tanglewood.

The Etudes Op. 10 and 25 and the Op. 28 Preludes, his most technical pieces, show the Chopin of the early to mid-1830s. He composed some of Op. 10 in Warsaw and Vienna, before his arrival in Paris. He retained a didactic purpose in Op. 10, focusing on a single aspect of technique, but on demanding virtuosic terms and showing his individual, Polish character by contrast to similar works by the virtuoso composers, for example, Kalkbrenner and Moscheles.

The selections from the Op. 28 Preludes and two Waltzes—Op. 34, No. 3 (1838) and Op. 70, No. 1 (1835)—must stand in for a variety of important works of the first half of the 1830’s, examples of Chopin’s finest inspiration and compositional technique, which show his mastery of counterpoint and originality in approaching melody, structure, and genre, for example the Op. 15 Nocturnes, the Two Polonaises Op. 26, the first Scherzo Op. 20 and the first Ballade Op. 23. All one can say is that even two weekends and a congregation of dedicated musicians, scholars, and listeners is not enough for everything!

The full range of Chopin’s expression emerges in works of his final decade, the great Fourth Ballade No. 4, Op. 52 (1842), the Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op. 53 (1842), the Scherzo in E Major, Op. 54 (1842), the Barcarolle in F-sharp Major, Op. 60 (1845-46), Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat Major, Op. 61 (1846), and the Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 65 (1846)—all among his greatest works, revealing Chopin’s genius as a composer in its final, most developed stage, when an inclination to simplicity and a concentration on the essentials guided his craft and imagination.

Louis-Auguste Bisson. Portrait of Chopin, 1849, Daguerreotype.

Louis-Auguste Bisson. Portrait of Chopin, 1849, Daguerreotype.

***

“Chopin and His World”
WEEKEND ONE: Chopin, the Piano, and Musical Culture of the 19th Century
Friday, August 11
PROGRAM ONE
The Genius of Chopin
Sosnoff Theater
7:30 pm Preconcert Talk: Leon Botstein
8 pm Performance: Katarzyna Sądej, mezzo-soprano; Benjamin Hochman & Orion Weiss, piano; The Orchestra Now, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director; and others

Fryderyk Chopin (1810–49)

Variations on “Là ci darem la mano” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Op. 2 (1827)
Orion Weiss, piano, The Orchestra Now, Leon Botstein, conductor

From 17 Songs, op. posth. 74
Wojak (The Warrior) (1831) (Witwicki)
Moja pieszczotka (My Darling) (1837) (Mickiewicz)
Narzeczony (The Bridegroom) (1831) (Witwicki)
Smutna rzeka (Troubled Waters) (1831) (Witwicki)
Katarzyna Sądej, mezzo-soprano
Erika Switzer, piano

24 Preludes, Op. 28 (1831–38)
Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat Major, Op. 61 (1846)
Benjamin Hochman, piano

Songs
Śpiew grobowy (Leci liście z drzewa) (Hymn from the Tomb/The Leaves Are Falling from the Tree) (1836) (Pol)
Melodya (From the Mountains) (1847) (Krasiński)
Dumka (Dirge) (1840) (Zaleski)
Katarzyna Sądej, mezzo-soprano
Erika Switzer, piano

Piano Concerto in F Minor, Op. 21 (1829)
The Orchestra Now, Leon Botstein, conductor

Saturday, August 12
PANEL ONE
Chopin: Real and Imagined
Olin Hall
10 am–noon

PROGRAM TWO
Chopin and Warsaw
Olin Hall
1 pm Preconcert Talk: Jeffrey Kallberg
1:30 pm Performance: Danny Driver & Anna Polonsky, piano; Jesse Mills, violin; Horszowski Trio; members of The Orchestra Now

Karol Lipiński (1790–1861)
Violin Concerto No. 3, Op. 24 (c. 1835)
Jesse Mills, violin
Members of The Orchestra Now
James Bagwell, conductor

Fryderyk Chopin (1810–49)
Polonaise in B-flat Minor, op. posth. (1826)
Danny Driver, piano

Václav Vilém Würfel (1790–1832)
Grande fantaisie lugubre au souvenir des trois héros: Prince Joseph Poniatowski, Kościuszko et Dąbrowski, Op. 18 (1818)
Rieko Aizawa, piano

Karol Kurpiński (1785–1857)
Fantasia “Chwila snu okropnego” (A Dreadful Dream) (1816/1820)
Rieko Aizawa, piano

Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778–1837)
Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 85 (1816)
Danny Driver, piano
Members of The Orchestra Now
James Bagwell, conductor

Józef Elsner (1769–1854)
Piano Sonata in D Major (1805)
Anna Polonsky, piano

Maria Szymanowska (1789–1831)
Etude in C Major (n.d.)
Prelude in E Major (n.d.)
Anna Polonsky, piano

Fryderyk Chopin
Trio for Piano, Violin, and Cello in G Minor, Op. 8 (1828)
Horszowski Trio

PROGRAM THREE
From the Opera House to the Concert Hall
Sosnoff Theater

7 pm Preconcert Talk: James Parakilas
8 pm Performance: Nicole Cabell, soprano; Jenni Bank, mezzo-soprano; Issachah Savage, tenor; Alexandra Knoll, oboe; American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director

Louis Spohr (1784–1859)
Overture to Faust (1816)

Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791–1864)
Ballet from Robert le diable (1831)

Vincenzo Bellini (1801–35)
Oboe Concerto in E-flat Major (c. 1819-25)
Alexandra Knoll, oboe

Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826)
Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 1 (1807; rev. 1810)

Fryderyk Chopin (1810–49)
Fantasy on Polish Airs, Op. 13 (1828)
Fei-Fei Dong, piano

Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868)
From Otello (1816) (Berio di Salsa) Act 3
Desdemona – Nicole Cabell, soprano
Otello – Olivier Gagnon, tenor
Emilia – Jenni Bank, mezzo-soprano
Gondoliere/Lucio – Olivier Gagnon, tenor

Sunday, August 13
PROGRAM FOUR
The Piano in the 19th Century
Olin Hall
10 am Performance with Commentary, with Piers Lane, piano
Works by Fryderyk Chopin (1810–49); Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943); and others

PROGRAM FIVE
The Consequences of Emancipation: Chopin’s Jewish Contemporaries
Olin Hall
1 pm Preconcert Talk: Leon Botstein
1:30 pm Performance: Tyler Duncan, baritone; Michael Brown, Danny Driver, Simon Ghraichy, Erika Switzer & Orion Weiss, piano; members of The Orchestra Now, conducted by Benjamin Hochman

Fryderyk Chopin (1810–49)
Ballade No. 4, Op. 52 (1842)
Waltz, Op. 64, No. 2 (1846-47)

Ignaz Moscheles (1794-1870)
Concerto No. 3 in G minor, Op. 58 (1820)

Henri Herz (1803-88)
Rondo Turc, Op. 85, No. 4 (1835)

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-47)
Prelude and Fugue in E minor, Op. 35 (1827/1841)

Ferdinand Hiller (1811-85)
Alla memoria di Vincenzo Bellini (1885)

Sigismond Thalberg (1812-71)
Fantaisie sur Andante finale de Lucia di Lammermoor, Op. 44 (1842)

Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-88)
From 25 Preludes, Op. 31 (1847)

Songs on texts by Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), by Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791-1864), Robert Schumann (1810-56), and Franz Liszt (1811-86)

PROGRAM SIX*
Virtuosity and Its Discontents
Sosnoff Theater
4:30 pm Preconcert Talk
5 pm Performance*: Cecilia Violetta López, soprano; Piers Lane and Brian Zeger, piano; Dongfang Ouyang, violin; members of The Orchestra Now, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director; and others

Fryderyk Chopin (1810–49)
Variations in A Major, “Souvenir de Paganini” (1829)
Fantaisie-Impromptu No. 4 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 66 (1834)
Fei-Fei Dong, piano

Franz Liszt (1811–86)
From Six chants polonais, S.480 (1857-60)
Consolation No. 3 in D-flat Major, S.172 (1849-50)
Gnomenreigen, S.145, No. 2 (1862-63)
Piers Lane, piano

Adolphe Adam (1803–56)
Bravura Variations on Mozart’s Ah! Vous dirai-je maman (1849)
Cecilia Violetta López, soprano
Nadine Hur, flute
Brian Zeger, piano

Robert Schumann (1810-56)
Violin Sonata No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 105 (1851)
David Chan, violin
Brian Zeger, piano

Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848)
From Maria Stuarda (1834)
Cecilia Violetta López, soprano
Members of The Orchestra Now
Leon Botstein, conductor

Nicolò Paganini (1782–1840)
From Violin Concerto No. 2 in B Minor, Op. 7(1826)
Dongfang Ouyang ’15, violin
Members of The Orchestra Now
Leon Botstein, conductor

Friedrich Kalkbrenner (1785–1849)
Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 61 (1823)
Piers Lane, piano
Members of The Orchestra Now
Leon Botstein, conductor

WEEKEND TWO: Originality and Influence
Thursday, August 17
SPECIAL EVENT
Movement, Miniatures, and Mysticism
Spiegeltent
8 pm Performance: Bard Music West
Trace the influence of Chopin’s work in the music of Les Six to Witold Lutosławski (1913-94); Henryk Górecki (1933-2010); Marta Ptaszyńska (b. 1943); Agata Zubel (b. 1978); and others

Friday, August 18
SPECIAL EVENT
The Romantic Wind Symphony
Sosnoff Theater
5 pm Performance: New York Wind Symphony
Charles Gounod (1818-93)
Petite Symphonie for Winds, Op. 216 (1885)
Hector Berlioz (1803–69)
Grande Symphonie funèbre et triomphale, Op. 15 (1840)

PROGRAM SEVEN
Chopin and the Piano
Sosnoff Theater
7:30 pm Preconcert Talk: Jonathan Bellman
8 pm Performance: Charlie Albright, Michael Brown, Danny Driver, Piers Lane, Anna Polonsky, and Ran Dank, piano
Fryderyk Chopin (1810–49)
Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op. 53 (1842)
Danny Driver, piano

From Études, Op. 10 (1829-32)
Danny Driver, piano

From Études, Op. 25 (1832-36)
Charlie Albright, piano

Scherzo in E Major, Op. 54 (1842)
Piers Lane, piano

Mazurka in F-sharp Minor, Op. 59, No. 3 (1845)
Anna Polonsky, piano

Barcarole in F-sharp Major, Op. 60 (1845-46)
Michael Brown, piano

Nocturne in D-flat Major, Op. 27, No. 2 (1835)
Anna Polonsky, piano

Fantasy in F Minor, Op. 49 (1842)
Piers Lane, piano

Prelude in C-sharp Minor, Op. 45 (1841)
Anna Polonsky, piano

Sonata in B-flat Minor, Op. 35 (1839)
Ran Dank, piano

Saturday, August 19
PANEL TWO
Chopin’s Place in 19th-Century Performance Culture
Olin Hall
10 am–noon

PROGRAM EIGHT
Chopin and the Salon
Olin Hall
1 pm Preconcert Talk: Byron Adams
1:30 pm Performance: Monika Krajewska, mezzo-soprano; Michael Brown and Anna Polonsky, piano; Nicholas Canellakis, cello; Bard Festival Chamber Players; members of The Orchestra Now

Fryderyk Chopin (1810–49)
Introduction and Polonaise brillante in C, Op. 3 (1829-30)
Waltzes Op. 34, No. 3 (1838) and Op. 70, No. 1 (1835)
John Field (1782-1837)
Nocturne No. 12 in G, H.58D (1822)
Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838)
Concerto No. 3 in C-sharp minor, Op. 55 (1812)
Louis Spohr (1784-1859)
Octet in E , Op. 32 (1814)
Maria Szymanowska (1789–1831)
Songs and Mazurka No. 8 in D (n.d.)
Auguste Franchomme (1808–84)
Nocturne, for two cellos, in E minor, Op. 14, No. 1 (1837)
Clara Wieck (1819–96)
Soirées Musicales, Op. 6, No. 3 (1836)
Pauline Viardot (1821-1910)
From 6 Mazurkas de Chopin (1848)

PROGRAM NINE*
The Polish National Opera: Halka
Sosnoff Theater
7 pm Preconcert Talk: Halina Goldberg
8 pm Performance*: Amanda Majeski, soprano; Teresa Buchholz, mezzo-soprano; Miles Mykkanen, tenor; Aubrey Allicock, baritone; Liam Moran, bass-baritone; Bard Festival Chorale, James Bagwell, choral director; American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director; and others; directed by Mary Birnbaum; scenic design by Grace Laubacher; lighting design by Anshuman Bhatia

Stanislaw Moniuszko (1819–72)
Halka (Warsaw version: 1858) (Wolski)
Cast
Halka – Amanda Majeski, soprano
Zofia – Teresa Buchholz, mezzo-soprano
Jontek – Miles Mykkanen, tenor
Janusz – Aubrey Allicock, baritone
Stolnik – Liam Moran, bass-baritone
Dziemba – Tom McNichols, bass-baritone

Sunday, August 20
PROGRAM TEN
From the Sacred to the Revolutionary: Choral Works from Poland and France
Olin Hall
10 am Performance: Bard Music Festival Chorale, James Bagwell, choral director
Works by Bartłomiej Pękiel (d. 1670); Marcin Mielczewski (1600-51);Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki (c. 1665−1734); Luigi Cherubini (1760–1842); Józef Elsner (1769−1854); François-Adrien Boieldieu (1775−1834); Daniel François Esprit Auber (1782–1871); Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791–1864); Fromental Halévy (1799−1862); Louis Lefébure-Wély (1817−69); and others

PROGRAM ELEVEN
Chopin’s Influence
Olin Hall
1 pm Preconcert Talk: Richard Wilson
1:30 pm Performance: Monika Krajewska, mezzo-soprano; Michael Brown, Simon Ghraichy, Piers Lane, piano; Nicholas Canellakis, cello; and others

Fryderyk Chopin (1810–49)
Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 65 (1846)

Robert Schumann (1810–56)
“Chopin,” from Carnaval, Op. 9 (1834–35)

Johannes Brahms (1833–97)
Intermezzo, Op. 118, No. 2 (1893)

Edvard Grieg (1843–1907)
Nocturne, Op. 54, No. 4 (c. 1891)

Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924)
Impromptu, Op. 25, No. 1 (1880)

Ignacy Paderewski (1860–1941)
Melodie, Op. 8, No. 3 (1882)

Claude Debussy (1862–1918)
Étude No. 12, Pour les accordes (1915)

Alexander Scriabin (1872–1915)
From 24 Preludes, Op. 11 (1888-96)

Karol Szymanowski (1882–1937)
From Mazurkas, Op. 50 (1924-25)

Works by Henryk Wieniawski (1835–80); Moritz Moszkowski (1854–1925); and Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

PROGRAM TWELVE
Shared Passions, Different Paths
Sosnoff Theater
3:30 pm Preconcert Talk
4:30 pm Performance: Tamara Mumford, mezzo-soprano; Danny Driver, piano; Bard Festival Chorale, James Bagwell, choral director; The Orchestra Now, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director; and others

Fryderyk Chopin (1810-49)
Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise brillante, Op. 22 (1830-35)
Danny Driver, piano

Hector Berlioz (1803-69)
Roméo et Juliette, dramatic symphony, Op. 17 (1839)
Tamara Mumford, mezzo-soprano
Miles Mykkanen, tenor
Önay Köse, bass-baritone

A recently-discovered daguerreotype said to be of Chopin

A recently-discovered daguerreotype said to be of Chopin

 

Michael Miller

About Michael Miller

Michael Miller, Editor and Publisher of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review, an International Journal for the Arts, was trained as a classicist and art historian at Harvard and Oxford, worked in the art world for many years as a curator and dealer, and contributed reviews and articles to Bostonia, Master Drawings, Drawing, Threshold, and North American Opera Journal, as well as numerous articles for scholarly and popular periodicals. He has taught courses in classics, the English language, and art history at Oberlin, Rutgers, New York University, the New School, and Williams. Currently, when he is not at work on The Berkshire Review and New York Arts, he writes fiction, pursues photography, and publishes scholarly work. In 2011 he contributed an introductory essay to Leonard Freed: The Italians / exh. cat. Io Amo L’Italia, exhibition at Le Stelline, Milan, and wrote the revised the section on American opera houses in The Grove Dictionary of American Music. He is currently at work on a libretto for a new opera by Lewis Spratlan, Midi, an adaptation of Euripides’ Medea set in the French West Indies, ca. 1930.

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